I heard on HIGNFY last night that once again Mazher Mahmood struck gold when disguising himself as a wealthy sheikh with his latest dupe being Fergie Duchess of York. Those of you who have followed Mazza’s career might think that men disguised as Arabs is a modern phenomenon but of course as we older hands know even this particular branch of cross dressing has its own fascinating history. Those who have donned the disguise include such luminaries as Sir Richard Burton who made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and of course Lawrence of Arabia. At the other end of the heroic scale Articles brings you the following tale.
Before my time at school, thankfully, it was the custom for Jesuit teachers to listen to a reading from an inspirational or instructional book whilst having their tea. On one occasion the reluctant pressed youth was reading from a published work by one of the above luminaries. No it was not that book, but “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. The schoolboy came to the word “sheikh” and pronounced it “sheek”. One of the Jays cleared his throat and spelled out “s-h-e-i-k-h as in shake”. The youngster continued and again came to the word sheikh, this time pronouncing it “shike”. Another of the assembled said “shake, boy, shake” to murmured laughter. Our hero - as he was to become - continued and again came to the word this time spelling it out quickly and inventing an asterisk adding “Gentlemen the footnote reads ‘The word s-h-e-i-k-h can be pronounced sheek, shike, or shake’ ” and calmly continued reading, without further interruption.
Be warned dear readers, especially teachers, parading your scholarship is a risky game, and remember, dear readers, especially duchesses, sheikhs might not be what they appear to be.